Arizona Democratic Party Stays Neutral on Open Primary Committee Initiative

| August 4 2012

In a recent Arizona Democratic State Committee meeting in Payson, members discussed the Arizona Open Primary initiative. While many key state leaders had opinions about the initiative, as of now the Arizona Democratic Party is remaining neutral on the initiative.

The silence, in this instance, speaks to the growing statewide opposition of the initiative. As of now, many in the Arizona Republican Party have been in open opposition to the Open Primary Initiative. Also, Warren Severin, Chairman of the Arizona Libertarian Party, and Linda Macias, 2nd Vice Co-Chair of the Arizona Green Party, have both opposed the proposed legislation. Many third party leaders see the Open Primary as a way for Democrats and Republicans to keep their candidates from a potential general fight.

Many political minds differ on the effectiveness of a Top-Two Primary system. Some feel that our current process is so badly broken that only a shake-up of this magnitude will motivate apathetic voters to vote. Others have shown that the experiment retains incumbents more so than any other form of elections. California recently tested the Open Primary system. It yielded almost no difference from past primary elections, except that this election brought a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the Open Primary system.

Voters will have to decide on the Top-Two primary by the November 6 General Election.


Paul, all the political scientists who have actually studied top-two systems say they don't change the state legislature.  Todd Donovan, the only expert witness for the top-two system in the Washington state court fight, wrote a scholarly article this year, published in the California Journal of Public Policy, saying Washington state's top-two system has not changed the type of legislator who gets elected, nor the behavior of state legislators.  After he wrote the article his conclusion was affirmed yet again when the partisan fighting in that legislature prevented any budget from being passed in the regular legislative session.  The Governor then called a special session and the budget still didn't pass.  It passed in the second special session.  Other political scientists who have studied this in detail agree with Donovan, especially Boris Shor and Seth Masket.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson

In Arizona, the current process by which we elect our Arizona legislature has created significant negative economic consequences on our state . gerrymandered districts, where no competition exists in 26 out of 30 legislative districts with less than 9% of the public participating in partisan primaries, have allowed an extreme minority agenda to direct our state’s actions   Narrow agendas and limited participation in primary partisan elections have resulted in direct and indirect job lossesand negative business relocation decisions.     In the past two years, during the toughest economy in our history, Arizona's brand has been damaged on multiple occasions by these partisan extremists who have labeled Arizona, unfairly as a racist backwards state - guns on school campuses questioning the President’s nationality, state’s rights, and secession while ignoring real issues of the economy and education. Because of this extreme ideology, they rejected federal dollars that would have come at no cost to Arizona taxpayers, rejecting federal money for unemployment and Medicaid even when the matching dollars were offered by hospitals. Estimates of direct job losses was in the tens of thousands.     The open primary, while not a panacea, would allow EVERY voter the right to vote in every election.  Elected officials would no longer be able to win by addressing narrow minority groups inside partisan primaries. Candidates who in the partisan primary have no competition would in the top two always have competition. To win they would be required to talk to people in the other party as well as independents.  Effectively, this should result in more moderate centrist candidates being elected office.   To build an economy focused on high-end jobs, we have to abandon the politics of the right and the left and empower private sector forces of innovation and creation, while investing in an educational  system that provides a solid work force and environment that advances the intellectual capital of a knowledge economy. This will only happen if we support a broader political view than our narrow primary system has fostered.   The Open Elections Open Government initiative has been endorsed by over 50 state business leaders and the majority of business organizations including Greater Phoenix Leadership, The Flagstaff 40, Southern Arizona Leadership, the Tucson Chamber, Tucson Hispanic Chamber and other business organizations.     We do not underestimate our opposition. We have drawn opposition from incumbents, lobbyist and the polititical Party's. I have run in both types of systems. I was elected Mayor of Phoenix in a non partisan top two system and ran for governor in a partisan primary. Voters have a much greater influence over thier candidates when all of them are allowed to vote. Paul Johnson Chairman Open Elections Open Government

WesternFreePress moderator

 @Paul Johnson "Independent" processes are easily gamed by the unscrupulous, producing choices that are less reflective of popular will (at least political processes have the possibility of elections to hold those involved accountable). And decrying "partisanship" and "ideology" is just another way of condemning those who do not agree with one side's agenda.